"The Flyers are going on the PECOOOOOO POWER PLAY!!!"
Generally when those words are boomed throughout the Wells Fargo Center the Philadelphia home crowd goes bananas. As of late, I'd welcome the sound of a dentist drill attacking my sensitive teeth rather than our beloved Peco Energy sponsored power play.
Well, if you couldn't tell already, the Flyers fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning in their second home game of the season last night to a score of 3 - 2 with Flyer goals from Nikolay Zherdev and Danny Briere. But for those who watched, you would agree once the puck dropped the Flyers were able to apply successful pressure on this offensively loaded Tampa team, holding them to only five shots on goal in the 1st period.
But it wasn't two minutes into the game that ex-Flyer, Steve Downie, rushed Nikolay Zherdev at center ice with a knee tripping penalty sending Zherdev flipping to the ice like he was Jackie Chan. This was the first of five man advantages for the Flyers.
Immediately Philadelphia's power play was sluggish from beginning to end. There were missed connections, bad passes, bouncing pucks and poor positioning. Basically everything wrong that you can imagine minus a Tampa shorthanded goal. All night long our power play looked sloppier than Courtney Love's bath water and has now gone zero for the past fifteen man advantages.
Head Coach Peter Laviolette has been saying that at practice there's a lot of competition for the power play lines. I'm a little puzzled when I hear this news because I'm watching power play after power play and there's been no success. You would think that if there's so much competition to make these lines....then the outcome would be able to compete! But we cannot convert! Not even on a five on three man advantage that we had early in the 1st.
I don't care who you are, you must convert on a five on three. Otherwise all that "competition" talk Peter's been spittin' in interviews sounds about as valid as Jaleel White given a role in a Brooklyn gangster motion picture.
Look, I'm not trying to take anything away from the Bolts' PK. They played with a lot of energy all night long. However, I'm also not giving our power play any credit either.
And speaking of the penalty kills, that was one hell of an upside to last night's performance! The Flyers had multiple shorthanded chances all game long! Mike Richards and Claude Giroux specifically. I must say, where I take credit away from the power play, I must dish just as much of it back to the penalty kill because we looked incredible.
There was great checking, excellent awareness, and experience really seemed to play a role in our PK.
Hell, at one point in the game we were going on the man advantage and I was yelling at [the television] Peter Laviolette to just stick our penalty kill line out there! They had more chances than the power play!
Problem was....we had the chances, we just couldn't execute.
So yea, Zherdev snuck one past Tampa net tender, Dan Ellis, making it Nik's 100th NHL career goal and his first as a Philadelphia Flyer.
Some skeptics were really digging into this kid given all his hype and no points thus far until last night.
Zherdev has had a history of attitude problems and taking plays off while he was on the ice. In layman's terms, he's been known to be a lazy little shit. But with the leadership we have on this Flyers squad, that shouldn't be an issue much longer.
Hopefully Zherdev's goal last night is the first of many to come this season. He, Giroux and JVR skated together on the forward line and seemed to connect very well with one another. It was a combination of those three - with Zherdev anchoring - that made that goal possible.
With one forward line in the limelight, there may be another under the gun. In this case, there's no "may be" about it.
The line I'm talking about is that Godawful first line; Jeff Carter centering Mike Richards and Daniel Carcillo at the wings.
I have NO IDEA what Peter Laviolette sees in this line. None whatsoever. Last night that ugly combination resulted in no points, a collected -6 and four shots on goal. Yea, that's our STARTING F*CKING LINE!
From the get go there wasn't any chemistry between the three. Sure, on paper you've got Carter's wrister, Carcillo's feared physical presence keeping opponent heads on a swivel on ice, and Richards' two-way player tenacity.
In reality? I could jump from my seats, over the glass, onto the ice and take a dump in our crease and it would have the same affect.
Richards looks lost, man. Totally lost. Like, as if he has no one out there with him. The three of them seem to play their own game rather than try and develop some sort of strategy that potentially has game changing ability.
Carter looks like Carter. And by that I mean some goof skating upright around the rink looking side-to-side wondering when it's worth his time to exert some energy. I gotta tell ya, when Carter's hot he's on FIRE! But it's so up and down with him my emotions feel like they're riding the Tower Of Terror.
First of all, may I just say that the highlights in his hair make him look the biggest piece of west coast shit yuppie. He might as well skate on the ice's edges blowing kisses to all the puck bunnies the businessmen brought with 'em to ice-row seats. Christ, some say he does that already.
But it's the same story with Jeff Carter; shot high and wide....shot high and wide.....shot hits the goalie directly on the crest.....shot high and wide....
Don't get me wrong, the kid is a superstar.......when he wants to be.
Carcillo.....we all know how I feel about this brute. I love him. Even though a majority of fans have said he should no longer dress for this team and he's not worth the $1M+ contract he signed with us in the off season, I still believe he plays a significant role drawing penalties and filling the opponent bench with so much verbal bullshit that it influences their play on the ice negatively. But the first line? HELL no.
I got much love for ya, Carbomb, but your ass deserves a 4th line seat.
All in all, the Flyers outplayed the Lightning but could not finish. When a team is so heavy ended with offensive power such as Stamkos, Gagne, St Louis, Lecavalier, Malone and Hall, you simply cannot afford to stop putting pressure on the puck for a single minute. Tampa took advantage and were successful. We couldn't convert on our advantages, and THAT is why the Bolts took it to us.
But our problems with the power play are manageable. We have the personnel to tweak this lump of rusty bolts into a well oiled machine. It's far too early to be breaking the glass and smashing the panic button. There is no ceiling to Laviolette's genius, and from what he's proven with this Flyers organization already.....I'm not worried.
Below is a highlight of Zherdev's first goal as a Flyer. It looked really sweet.
The Flyers take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in Philadelphia on October 16th, @ 6:00pm. Time to rebound, boys!